Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
A new agreement that will bolster UNCTAD’s work to help ports in developing countries improve operations and speed up trade has been announced.
Ports from Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland recommitted early last month their support to UNCTAD’s programme helping ports in developing countries boost productivity and efficiency.
The Dublin Port Company, the Port of Cork Company and Belfast Harbour signed a new four-year agreement with the UN body, renewing their partnership with its TrainForTrade port management programme.
With ships carrying over 80% of the goods people buy, from food to medicine to electronics, ports play a crucial role in trade and socioeconomic development – a fact highlighted by Covid-19.
Restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus led to delays in ports that put a strain on global supply chains and contributed to higher prices for consumers.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said: ‘The pandemic reminded the world that when ports slow down, everyone suffers.’
Ambassador Michael Gaffey of Ireland, heading his country’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva added: ‘Climate change, COVID-19 and the war have shown the importance of building resilient ports.’
Dublin partnered with UNCTAD in 2007, followed by Cork in 2014 and Belfast in 2018.
The three ports will continue to provide support by hosting training activities, such as courses to certify managers from ports in Africa, Asia and Latin America as programme instructors.
Staff from the Irish and Northern Irish ports will also help produce and update the training material, which includes almost a dozen modules.
These cover all aspects of managing a port efficiently, from reducing the environmental impact of operations to speeding up ship wait times to building resilience to pandemics and crises.
It is understood that senior managers from Dublin, Cork and Belfast will help deliver training modules in many of the hundreds of ports that are part of the TrainForTrade network.
Ms Grynspan said the Irish and Northern Irish ports’ commitment and professionalism have been key to the success and longevity of the programme, which has trained and certified over 6,700 port managers in 140 countries since 1996. She added: ‘These trained officials make a difference in the way their ports are run.’
Making a difference
One of the thousands of port professionals trained by the programme is Hector Miole, who decades ago started his career as a terminal operator and is now the assistant general manager of the Philippines Port Authority, one of TrainForTrade’s members.
Mr Miole credits the training with helping him rise through the ranks and making him a more effective manager.
Beyond improving his knowledge and skills, he said the programme allowed him to replicate in the Philippines solutions from other ports.
After taking part in training workshops in the two Irish ports Miole commented: ‘Understanding the growth and development of Dublin port and how the port of Cork managed its cruise and passenger ferry businesses were important guideposts during my visit.’
Ambassador Gaffey said this collaborative spirit is the heart of TrainForTrade. He commented: ‘The programme unites port professionals from developed and developing countries to work on the same challenges. It is a matter of working together and exchanging knowledge and experiences.’
Port of Cork’s head of human resources, Peter O’Shaughnessy, also sees the endeavour as a win-win. He reflected: ‘Much is given by our port, and much is received in return. Our own port team equally gains from our involvement as we also see our own people learning, broadening their experience, strengthening their knowledge and understanding of our industry and growing a network of contacts globally.’
Ambassador Simon Manley of the UK* agreed, saying the learning and sharing of experiences provided by the global network: ‘Is the very essence of what UNCTAD is all about. Trade is not a zero-sum game. It is a veritable opportunity for everybody.
The signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the three ports and UNCTAD was also attended by high-level representatives of Cambodia, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Philippines and Tanzania, which all have ports that are part of the programme. Belfast Harbour was represented by Captain Kevin Allen.
* He is the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, United Nations and other International Organisations based in Geneva, a post he took up in April 2020.
Delegates at the MoU signing ceremony (from left to right): Ebo Kobena Quaison, Minister-Counsellor of Ghana; Gabriel M. Okoko, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria; Prasith Suon, Commercial Counsellor of Cambodia; Shamika Sirimane, Director of UNCTAD’s Division on Technology and Logistics; Captain Kevin Allen, Harbour Master of Belfast Harbour; Evan Garcia, Ambassador of the Philippines; Maimuna Kibenga Tarishi, Ambassador of Tanzania; Nur Azureen Mohd PISTA, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Malaysia; Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD; Genevieve Feraud, Chief of UNCTAD’s New Technologies, Training and Capacity-Building Branch; Peter O’Shaughnessy, Head of Human Resources of the Port of Cork Company; Michael Gaffey, Ambassador of Ireland; Simon Manley, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; John Moore, programme focal point for the English-speaking network; Mark Assaf, Chief of UNCTAD’s Human Resources Development Section/TrainForTrade.
Photo: per www.unctad.org ©UNCTAD.
It is a pleasure to learn that our Members are now able to travel once again and pick up with face-to-face meetings where we left off so many months ago.
IHMA Member Shawn Grant, Harbour Master of Port of Sept-Îles, Canada and his team recently visited Captain Ben van Scherpenzeel at the Port of Rotterdam.
Of their valuable trip he commented: ‘Our visit to the Port of Rotterdam was extraordinary and very informative. Port Rotterdam has always been a leader in implementing Environmental Protection measures and as such we were interested in discussing best practices. During the visit I was accompanied by the Sept-Iles (Canada) Economic Development Corporation.
On 9 June Eng Abdulrab Al-Khulaqi, Deputy Executive Chairman of Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation (YGAPC), received at the Marine Department Building, Ms Marcela Masiarik, the chancellor of the German Embassy, and Ms Melissa Rahmouni, Senior Advisor at the French Embassy in Yemen.
Captain Ahmed Al-Bishi, Acting Director of General Maritime Operations, welcomed the visitors and explained the functions of this department, which works around the clock, the main interface of the port, through which the procedures for receiving ships, berthing and sailing are arranged.